Tackling the 2016 Cannes Young Lions Competition

Last Thursday, PrettyGreen had two teams tackle the 2016 Cannes Young Lions competition. The competition highlights the brightest and best young talent the PR world has to offer by giving the teams of two 24 hours to respond to a brief. The best entries are shortlisted and the winning national team will take to Cannes to compete with the best Young Lions from around the world.

PrettyGreen’s teams pitted the masters against the apprentices with the dynamic duo of Claire MacDonald and Emma Wills (Team Connexus) taking on Rhea Cheshire and Joni Roome (Team Versatile). Rivalries would be formed, secret agents would be enlisted and ideas would be exaggerated to ridiculous proportions.
It’s now been enough time for them to recover and talk about their experience…


11:15am – The teams receive the first morsel of information. The brief will come from someone everyone is familiar with – relief ensues.

11:16am – Both teams frantically Google the brand and open 124 tabs each and devour all of the available information.

7:00pm – Both teams ponder the meaning of the acronym of the brand and wonder if the brief is not about the charity they are familiar with but in fact from the Northern Salted Parsnip Collection Club


8:30am – The brief will arrive shortly and both teams arrive to work early. Pumped up and ready to tackle the impending challenge – Claire is so excited she starts doing press ups while Rhea eats porridge with zen-like calm.


9:55am – Teams Versatile and Connexus rush off to their separate rooms as contact between the two teams is prohibited.

10:00am – Each word is carefully absorbed as both teams pore over the brief, inspecting for clues.

11:00am – Ideas fly around the room like pigeons in Kings Cross station, the teams try to catch them but like pigeons the best ones seem to escape.

11:30am – Team Connexus manage to capture a handsome pigeon/idea and work up their thoughts. Cue smugness.

11:45am – Team Versatile decide on the hashtag #HelpClaire without any reasoning. This hashtag is repeated for no reason for the next 7 hours.

1:00pm – Both teams have landed on ideas. Team Connexus say thank you to each other approx. 89 times an hour, resorting to listening to Dido’s song, Thank You (their idea hinges on thank you)… while Team Versatile become fixated on the idea of abusive bus stops.

2:00pm – Late lunch time, Team Versatile develop a thirst for tonic water which will continue throughout the night.

3:30pm – A Cold War breaks out as both teams become scared and suspicious of each others ideas. All guests arriving in Team Versatile’s base are subject to strict questioning of their intentions.

5:00pm – Team Connexsus give up on thank you, do some kicks and stretches and go down a new, unfamiliar path. Claire cancels her plans for the evening.

5:30pm – Both teams reach peak creativity, notes are typed so fast by Emma that a replacement laptop is called in so the old one can receive physiotherapy. Claire is still humming along to Dido and wondering what happened to her.

7:30pm – Team Connexus go for a tactical Pho food pitstop which provides the inspiration for nailing the remainder of their presentation and 500-word campaign description. Rhea and Joni panic and order a nearby Byron Burger.

9:00pm – Rhea questions whether the office cleaner is in fact an undercover spy for Team Connexus as he spends a suspicious amount of time looking at Team Versatile’s post it notes.

11:00pm – Team Versatile continue to down tonic water instead of writing a cohesive strategy.

11:30pm – Claire and Emma have made some serious headway and leave for home. Briefly panicking about the lack of Ubers available, they opt for accepting the surge pricing.

2:00am – All words have lost meaning. Language is futile. Joni and Rhea are left to communicate with rudimentary hand gestures and crude drawings.

2:30am – Without proper communication the presentation hasn’t advanced. The team call it a night and Uber it home. Surge has ended by this point.

(4:45am – Rhea wakes up screaming about integrated campaigns)


8:00am – Teams Versatile and Team Connexus arrive in the office bleary eyed and frantic.

8:30am – Team Connexus realise they have forgotten what the word strategy means thanks to fatigue and spend 10 minutes trying to remember what that thing with word descriptions is called (it’s a dictionary).

8:40am – Team Versatile had their own realisation – they’d completely ignored the fact that a 500-word campaign description needed writing. Joni decided the best way to deal with this was to pace around the room like a harangued dad who’s been left to cook dinner for the kids while mum is out and has just burnt the fishfingers.

9:56am – Team Versatile send their brief and campaign description over with four minutes to spare. In lieu of champagne, the team pop open a bottle of tonic water in honour of last nights binge.

9:58am – Team Versatile, drunk on fatigue, drop in on Team Connexus as they encounter last minute technical difficulties – the powerpoint won’t send! Email! Outbox! Call IT! Someone’s hacked into the mainframe! Is it Anonymous?!

10:02am – False alarm, the internet wasn’t connected.

10:03am – Hooray! All presentations were successfully submitted and the reward was a full day of work for the teams. Rhea almost fell asleep at her desk and Emma tried to call Claire using a banana.

All in all, a life defining moment for both teams and a brilliant challenge to take on and conquer. Fingers crossed for the shortlist announcement on March 17th!